Updates Per Peace Table

milf

Statement of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles

I would like to set the record straight on the matter of my tenure in government. I served as the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process under the Arroyo administration from September 2003 until my public resignation as part of the Hyatt 10 in July 2005. I returned to the same post under the Aquino administration in July last year. Given this timeline, I would like to give clarifications on the following points raised by Senator Francis Escudero in an interview yesterday.

1.      The term "Area of Temporary Stay" or ATS is a military term. From the point of view of the ceasefire mechanism, it is an area to temporarily hold MILF forces so that government forces may be able to accomplish their mission. It is of a different concept from the areas mentioned in the MOA-AD, which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The ATS therefore is an operational term, which qualifies that the areas held by the MILF, is only temporary.
2.      On the matter of MOA-AD, OPAPP records show that it came out in July, 2008. At this time, I was no longer the PAPP, but a private citizen and member of the civil society known to be in opposition to the Arroyo Administration, very much like Senator Escudero whom I've met in a number of occasions in Congress during the proceedings on the proposed impeachment of Arroyo as President in 2005-2006.
 
In the months that followed the Supreme Court's issuance of a TRO in August, 2008, I was quoted by news reports assailing the Arroyo Government for its use of the peace process with the MILF, through the MOA-AD, for Arroyo's political survival and extension of stay in power beyond 2010.
 
3.      On the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute or BLMI, it was conceptualized and discussed in the negotiations between the Government and the MILF during their 10th Formal Exploratory Talks in February, 2006, at Port Dickson, Malaysia.  Its fast-tracked establishment was agreed upon by the two parties during the 14th Formal Exploratory Talks held on November 14-15, 2007.
 
The Institute's formal establishment was made in May, 2008, with the help of the Development Academy of the Philippines, which guided the leadership of the BLMI in crafting the design of the Institute and its operations, and assisted in its acquisition of a legal personality through the Institute’s registration in the Securities and Exchange Commission. Definitely before I left the OPAPP in July 2005, the idea was not even conceived yet.
 
The President's decision to grant the P5 million financial assistance to the BLMI was made on the basis not only of it being an agreement that the Government is bound to uphold, but also because he personally believes that this is an investment worth taking if there will be a shift in paradigm, from a culture of war to a culture of peace, cooperation and good governance among the Bangsamoro.
 
Likewise, the Institute's continued training activities of Moro men and women with funding support by international donor agencies such as The Asia Foundation and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) since its establishment to date, gave the Government confidence on the capability of the Institute to utilize the fund for the leadership and governance empowerment of young Moro leaders. As The Asia Foundation reported, all the expenditures of the funds they gave BLMI were duly audited. The same is true of the funds provided by JICA who continue to support the Institute to this day, and reported a fresh grant for BLMI only this March, 2011. It was always understood that the assistance given by the President will be treated the same way and be duly accounted for by BLMI.
 
I understand Senator Escudero’s apprehensions and appreciate his concern that the President be properly guided on the peace process. As a hands-on Commander-in-Chief, the President is very much aware of the history, challenges and opportunities that come with the peace agenda. In fact, Sec. Jesse Robredo, Sec. Dinky Soliman and myself have been instructed by the President to go to Basilan and Zamboanga Sibugay today, where the affected communities are, to get credible and timely information on the ground and bring the message of the President's firm commitment for the welfare of the people of Mindanao. At this point in time, it is our goal to focus our energies and enjoin everyone's assistance for the welfare of the communities who are deeply affected by the current armed conflict.
 
We at OPAPP follow and espouse as a policy the President's call for transparency and accountability. Thus, we have been working with the Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unification in meeting with interested members of the Senate to provide briefings and discuss their concerns regarding our framework for peace and development. We have written to Senator Escudero and offered to sit down with him for the same discussion.